Canine Training: No Free Rides!

When we first get our dogs, our intentions are always very noble. We have every intention of training them and exercising them. We have been told this will produce a balanced and well-behaved dog, but real everyday life seems to slowly sneak in - we go back to our hectic schedules and your dog gets pushed down on the priority list. Because we feel guilty for not giving them the leadership and time they deserve, we substitute treats and belly rubs for exercise and training. This produces a dog that will only obey if given a treat while developing a pudgy pooch.

It is important to take the lead in your dog's life. The goal of training should be to make you forget that you're training your dog and simply allow you to be the leader your dog knows you can be!

STEP ONE: No Free Lunches!

Make your dog work for everything! I'm not asking them to do the dishes or fold the laundry, just a simple "sit" to get the goods! Anything they value: food, attention, toys, etc. must be obtained by a simple "sit" command. This is part of your everyday interaction.

  • Before you put his/her leash on have them "sit"! This sets the energy for your walk.
  • Before they are allowed to eat their meals have them "sit"! Food is a valuable resource and those in charge of it rule.
  • Before you shower them with attention and petting, always require they "sit!" This makes them politely request your attention. 

You get the idea, and I can tell you from experience your dog will quickly catch on- and before you know it, they will offer up the command without your verbal requests.

In a real pack, all members have worth but all must defer to the law of the Alpha pair. This is a real and necessary requirement in order to survive - in the sometimes harsh world in which they exist. 

I want you to become a leader now, not later! In a dog's life, you live in the "now." Without rules and boundaries to gently guide your dog, their lives are less fulfilling and sadly sometimes shortened. By being their leader you can groom your perfect dog, and in many cases, your most reliable friend. 

- Cath and Pack

By Cathy Mayer

This blog post originally appeared on The Drake Center

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